The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Friday

The Right Mask
By Brian Patten

One night a poem came up to a poet
From now on, it said, you must wear a mask.
What kind of mask? asked the poet.
A rose mask, said the poem.
I've used it already, said the poet,
I've exhausted it.
Then wear the mask that's made out of
a nightingale's song, use that mask.
Oh, it's an old mask, said the poet,
it's all used up.
Nonsense, said the poem, it's the perfect mask,
still, try on the god mask,
now that mask illuminates heaven.
It's a tight mask, said the poet,
and the stars crawl about in it like ants.
Then try on the troubador's mask, or the singer's mask,
try on all the popular masks.
I have, said the poet, but they fit so easily.

The poem was getting impatient,
it stamped its feet like a child,
it screamed. Then try on your own face,
try the one mask that terrifies,
the mask only you could possibly use,
the mask only you could wear out.

The poet tore at his face til it bled,
this mask? he yelled, this mask?
Yes, said the poem, yes.

But the poet was tired of masks,
he had lived too long with them,
he snatched at the poem and stuck it in his face.
Its screams were muffled, it wept, it tried to be lyrical,
it wriggled into his eyes and mouth.

Next day his friends were afraid of him,
he looked so distorted.
Now it's the right mask, said the poem, the right mask.
It clung to him lovingly and never let go again.

Nauset Lighthouse at Cape Cod National Seashore, just above the beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

This is an area rich in joint US and British history. Here is the site from which Marconi Wireless transmitted the first transatlantic telegram, from President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII of England...

...while here, in Province Lands, is one of the freshwater streams where the Mayflower settlers came ashore in search of fresh water before landing and settling in Plymouth.

In Provincetown proper stands this Pilgrim Monument in honor of the earliest European immigrants to the area.

Cape Cod Lighthouse, moved from its original location due to the erosion of the surrounding dunes, now set in the midst of a golf course.

And speaking of golf courses, a picture for Jack Aubrey fans from the miniature golf course where we played this evening (pirate themed of course -- Skull Island): Testudo Aubreii, or a close imitation.

With the exception of the hour or so playing miniature golf, I spent all day in view of the Atlantic Ocean and quite a bit of time in the water, so I am once again sun-fried but very happy (and the weather held, despite apparent rain in New York and Boston). We went to several national park sites, some concerned with the ecosystems and wildlife of Cape Cod including a hike through a cedar forest, some concerned with history such as the stream bed where the pilgrims first found and drank fresh water in the New World. The ocean was once again warm, with slightly larger waves and less seaweed. Like many coastal towns I've visited in DelMarVa and the Outer Banks, Cape Cod has a great deal of saltwater taffy, ice cream and pottery, and there are cheap t-shirts and ship miniatures galore!

Sorry once again to be brief but I continue to have connection problems so I cannot answer comments nor even download my mail, which is very slow -- I apologize! Also, and far worse, my husband's CD-RW drive appears to be completely fried, so I cannot burn large trip photos to CD. I may need to become far more judicious about how many I take!
Tags: new england 04

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